In this age, when having a socio-political opinion can harm career and relationships, most people may just offer a shrug to this question. Many would also say that it is not possible, that all progressive endeavors (particularly communism) have failed, and that the current dominance of conservative values together with state-insured capitalism (the US bail-out) is the only way to improve living conditions, even if it works at a rate comparable with radioactive decay of Uranium-235. And a risk-averse belief in God and that poverty and inequality are his will has helped even educated professionals to turn a blind eye to that two year old child begging for money at the streets.
But why did all progressive endeavors fail? One of the key factors has been the lack of willingness of the masses to be free, something that has troubled revolutionaries perennially. Che found it unbelievable that the rural peasants, for whose well being he was betting his life, were ever so willing to betray him. Gramsci explained this as an outcome of the cultural hegemony of the bourgeoisie. So the likes of Bukharin and Rousseau opined that the masses have to be coerced into freedom. But while Carlos Marighella proposed to achieve exactly this through struggle by a few proletarian “heroes” in his Minimanual for the Urban Guerrilla, such strategies when deployed in practice by the likes of Baader-Meinhoff Gang or
The second is the problem with the progressive movements and their flag bearers themselves. The proponents of these movements, particularly the Social Democratic parties lost all credibility as they made one compromise after another, the biggest mistakes being declaring religion a private affair and participating in elections that gave enormous power and benefits to a few individuals. The Communist countries also suffered from lack of support from a general public who were still ignorant and seeped in age old prejudices and irrationalities. The fact that power was so concentrated in the hands of a few individuals in these communist countries also led to oppression and widespread resentment. Also, many of these organizations suffered numerous splits. While this was to be expected as by nature, progressive ideas, that try to shape the future, are bound to have many possibilities and therefore the resulting divisions. All the same, such splits have successively weakened their positions.
Of course, progressive movements had to also encounter the massive force of inertia and comfort provided by a traditional (known) way of life. But all the same, it may be too early to write them off. Weren’t republics considered a dead idea after monarchy prevailed over